Could you give us an overview of the investments made by VCGP in Jamaica?
The highlight of our activity over the past 17 years has been a number of successful projects, approximately 10 major projects that have all been finished on time and within budget. Among those was the Jamaica Water Supply Improvement Project (JWSIP), the largest potable water project in the history of the English-speaking Caribbean. It was a vast and fully integrated program from concept design and discussions that started in 2008 to the implementation from 2010 to 2015. The project was divided into two phases, one USD68 million and the other USD89 million, with different components all over the island. JWSIP was a comprehensive project from the catchment of raw water in the rivers to its treatment via the construction and refurbishment of major water treatment plants. The project also included transmission pipelines and storage tanks, pumping stations, and distribution pipelines. We have laid some of the largest pipelines on the island and smaller distribution networks as well for the National Water Commission (NWC). We have now developed other business lines in Jamaica and are working on the expansion of the port in Kingston.
How is the expansion of the port progressing?
The port is a complex engineering project, requiring many specializations. VCGP has partnered with different subsidiaries of the VCGP group specializing in maritime and quay works to come up with innovative engineering solutions to minimize the cost while maintaining the quality of the work and safety of all personnel. We have approximately 500 employees working on this project, and completion is expected in December 2018.
What is the outlook for the water sector in Jamaica?
VCGP has worked on the largest water production centers on the island and the largest plants for potable water, yet there is still a need for more water. Around 85% of the population has access to piped water or close to it, however water demand is increasing every year because of population growth, and therefore, there is a growing need for the construction of additional catchment and treatment facilities and for other smaller distribution networks. We are currently developing programs with the government and NWC to alleviate the shortage of water in the Kingston metropolitan area. It is one thing to treat raw water and produce potable water, but now we have to be able to treat wastewater as well. There are several existing wastewater treatment facilities but most are aged and require upgrades or completely new facilities to meet new environmental regulations, which came out in 2013. VCGP has recently designed and constructed the Boscobel and Elletson Flats treatment plants, our first two wastewater plants in Jamaica designed in accordance with the new regulations.
What are your goals and objectives in the coming year?
Separate from the port expansion project, we are implementing the KCT2 Pavement Project, which is a large, 60,000-sqm concrete pavement project that will be finished by the end of 2017 at the Kingston Port. We are also building the Port Antonio Wastewater Treatment Plant and installing sewer pipelines, which we expect to commission by July or August of 2018. In terms of new projects, we expect to start the construction of a new treatment plant in 2018 in the form of a PPP. There is one PPP in the wastewater sector, but we want to develop the first one in the potable water sector. We have strong financial partners who are ready to invest money. Jamaica has a lot of infrastructural needs, but the government has little financial resources at the moment. PPPs could be one solution to fill the gap in the current capital investment structure.